There are few products in history that are as closely linked to human beings and their cultural development as olive oil. Since the origin of the olive in the Cenozoic era and its first cultivation six thousand years ago in Asia Minor, olive juice has been a tireless companion throughout the evolution of man.
of olive growing
Starts the comercil
use of Olive Oil
Olive growing reaches
expands in Spain
Olive oil competed against other vegetable-based oils, such as sesame and safflower. They were all used as medicinal ointments, for cooking, in religious worship, and for lighting.
The earliest depictions of the olive tree in Minoan art suggest that this tree was grown in Crete in 2500 BC. At the doorway to the Palace of Knossos there is a charging bull and the sacred olive tree relief in three colours: the top is green, the bottom is pale green, and the dry leaves are red. Anecdotally, Solom the legislator began to describe laws to protect olive trees for the first time, one of which banned all exports from Attica, except for olive oil, which favoured trading of this product. Olive tree cultivation first came to Spain via the Phoenicians in 1100 BC and later expanded through economic relations with Greece. However, olive production did not truly become significant until 206 BC, after the Roman occupation of Hispania.Pliny the Elder believed that oil from Baetica, in the fertile triangle of Cordub, Astigi, and Hispalis, was among the best in the empire, comparable to the oil from Venafro in the Italian region of Campagna. In the Middle Ages northern Europeans included butter in their usual diet of fats and were unaware of or avoided olive oil since it was an expensive product that they spurned because it was a custom of the invasive and now declining Roman Empire and the production.
In the Middle Ages olive oil was used for cooking but it was also used to light houses and make soap and fabrics. Olive oil was very useful for these applications and difficult to replace. Medicinal use in balms and medicines is documented in medical literature from the era. Writers such as Averroes and Maimonides devoted passages in their medical works to praise the use of olive oil to make certain dishes like fish and fried eggs. In his second voyage, Columbus took botanical species, including wheat, grapes, and olives. However, they found that the Antilles were not a suitable habitat for growing them. It was not until the 18th century that Friar Junipero Serra reached San Diego Bay in California and began to cultivate and consolidate olive tree plantations in the New World.
The 18th century saw a new phase in the olive oil trade due to the population explosion. Increased consumption and domestic demand collided with the financial interests of exporters. In order to rein in rising domestic prices, a price adjustment and moderation policy was needed to keep them under control, as Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos describes in his 1774 report.
With new technical and industrial advances, the Mediterranean olive oil market situation in the 19th century had three dimensions. Firstly, it was largely an internal market of regional compensations, being the most widely used dietary fat. Secondly, it provided the raw materials for certain Mediterranean industries, especially soap factories. Thirdly, it became extremely important in international trade between exporting and importing countries.
Today, olive oil is a unique heritage because of all the aforementioned values and because of its omnipresence in the Mediterranean diet. It is a large industry whose market is led by Spain and Italy, and the uses and benefits of olive oil continue growing over time.